Friday, November 9, 2007

Hang in There, Guys!

By NanceGreggs

I know how hard it is to feel any hope at all these days. Things seem so bleak, and frustratingly out of our control.

But things will change for the better; wrongs will be righted, and damage will eventually be undone.

And I have the evidence to back me up – albeit just anecdotal evidence. But I thought I’d share it tonight with all of my friends who might be feeling as I am; alone and lost in a world gone mad.

My maternal grandfather, the son of an Irish immigrant who had little education and not much opportunity in a time when “Irish need not apply”, eventually left his job as a bartender to open his own place. It was just a small neighborhood bar in Brooklyn, but it did well enough to support an ever-growing family.

But then Prohibition became the law of the land, and with no training or skills to do anything else, grandpa turned his bar into a coffee shop, one that served bootleg liquor in mugs to the regulars who still came by of an evening, just as they always had.

Grandpa thought it would never end. He would always live in fear of being found out; he would lock the doors every night of his life, wondering if it would be the last time before he was carted off to jail, leaving a wife and a tiny apartment full of kids to fend for themselves.

But it did end.

My great Aunt Rose, my grandfather’s sister, used to tell me about how she and her husband, young and in love, married at the onset of the Great Depression. They both took whatever jobs they could find, and struggled to make ends meet – never allowing themselves the luxury of a single thing that was deemed unnecessary, like a second cup of watered-down coffee for breakfast when one would suffice, or a bus ride home from work when the hour walk might be tiring, but could save a nickel better spent on food.

Aunt Rose often said that in those days, they never pictured their lives being any different. It would always be a life of survival, devoid of luxuries like bus rides and second cups of coffee, no less things like having a child or maybe two, because another mouth to feed just wasn’t in the cards.

But it did end.

My mother was married at seventeen, quickly and without the fanfare that girls of that age dream about. My father, eighteen at the time, was in the Navy and about to be shipped out to places unknown, along with her brothers and all the boys in the neighborhood, just part of the forces needed as the second World War raged.

So she stayed with my grandparents, along with her newly-married sister and sisters-in-law, a houseful of women and small children who spent their days fearing every knock on the door, lest it be yet another kid in uniform bringing the kind of news that no newlywed should ever have to bear.

My mother often told me that they never saw their lives as changing; it would always be this way. Neighborhoods full of women whose daily routine consisted of writing letters to loved ones far away, and attending the funerals of those who had not lived to see the children they’d left behind grow up.

But it did end.

After high school, I went off to art school in Manhattan, where I became best friends with a girl from upstate, who often talked about the time her parents had spent in prison in their early married days. She talked about it as if I would understand who they were, and why they’d been in jail. It took a while before I understood; her parents had joined the Communist party after World War II, seeing it as the answer to their idealistic desire for peace through community and a sharing of work and wealth.

Her parents were caught up in the madness of the McCarthy era and, as she told me, they never saw things changing. They would always be shunned for their political views; always at risk for having once been members of an organization later deemed to be un-American and unpatriotic, rendering them unemployable and unacceptable to society at large for the rest of their days.

But it did end.

I know how easy it is to say that we are now in a situation that has never existed before in our nation. The so-called president is a lying idiot, the vice president is a crook, and their entire administration is nothing more than thieves bent on the destruction of our nation’s economy, its citizens, and its standing in the world. And I don’t dispute those facts for a minute.

But let’s remember that we, as a nation, have survived dark and dismal days that, for those citizens who lived through them, seemed endless.

But what we are going through right now will end.

In the meantime, we have each other, each willing to stand up and fight for what is right, willing to do whatever is necessary to change what we can, as quickly as can be done.

Let’s never forget what a precious thing that is.

Goodnight, my friends. Tomorrow is another day, and we will meet its challenges together.

We will not be defeated. The stakes are too high, and we, together, are too committed to yield.

Posted in full with permission of author.

Originally posted at

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